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The dead woman was lying on her face. “Now you must get astride upon her,” said the master, “and sit firmly on her back, as if you were riding a horse. Come! You must do it!” —from a Lafcadio Hearn story
This week, Litro Lab takes a look at the Japanese ghost stories of Lafcadio Hearn and investigates the folklore of Yōkai myths, Noh plays, modern urban legands, and horror cinema along the way.
Hearn was a journalist and travel writer who covered crime stories in Cincinatti, voodoo in New Orleans, and carnivals in the West Indies before settling in Japan in the 1890s. His books on his adopted country helped to fuel the Western obsession with orientalism at the turn of the last century. Hearn is now best remembered for his retellings of the traditional Japanese tales of the supernatural, collected from old texts and from his Japanese wife. His stories have been popular for over a century, influencing everything from literature to cinema.
In this episode you can listen to some of Hearn’s incredibly creepy stories, and to my interviews with folklore scholar Professor Michael Dylan Foster and Hearn expert Professor Roy Starrs on Hearn’s life, his source material, and the influence of his work.
“The Nightmare Touch” and “The Corpse Rider” were read by Greg Page.
“Mujina” was read by Richard Koworld.
“Ingwa Banashi” was read by Louisa Gummer.
“Yuki Onna” by Charlotte Worthing.
“Unanswered Questions” and “Ghost Processional” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com);
Japanese Koto Music, 1966;
Sound effects from freesound — Kongourin-ji bell: MShades, Flute: JohLaVine333, Taiko drum: sandyrb, Whisper: Connum, Running: nathanaelsams, Flute: UncleSigmund, Frogs: eyecandyuk, Walk on dirt road: laurent, Woman cry: thanvannispen, Taiko: whatsanickname4u, Howling wind: medialint.